We are very excited to be back for the final episode of ITV’s Love Your Home and Garden series 2. Alongside fellow presenters, Alan Titchmarsh, Katie Rushworth and Kunle Barker, we transform the homes and gardens of deserving people across the country.
This episode takes us to Swindon and the home of the Parry’s, a lovely family who despite both parents being severely disabled and dependant on their children as carers, give up their time for charity and work in the community.
In this blog we are going to share with you the ideas we devised for radically changing Nina and Steve’s living spaces and hopefully give you some top design tips that can be applied to your home.
The family moved into the bungalow recently and while there were adaptions like a wet-room and large doorways, Nina and Steve had a number of issues with the property;
- No wheelchair accessible access into the garden.
- Small and poorly laid out kitchen.
- No views out to the garden from the living areas.
- No dining space that could be used by all the family together.
To get to the garden, there was a back door from the main bedroom a, however, with the couple both being in wheelchairs, they were unable to use it. Without the access to the garden it made it very hard for both Nina and Steve to let their children play outside without supervision.
Although they did have a dining table, due to lack of space it was pushed to one side to make space for circulation and was subsequently used as storage space (something generally lacking elsewhere in the house)
The kitchen was tiny, with most storage either being high up and out of reach or in a narrow and inaccessible areas, such as the corner pantry. There was also wasted space in the form of a windowless storage room next to the kitchen, which was used for storing the cat litter!
Because of the location of the kitchen against the back wall and the height of the window cill to the kitchen there was no clear view from the inside out into the garden, so whilst the existing open-plan layout was fairly spacious it felt a lot smaller.
Designing for a family with two wheelchair users was a really unique challenge for us and the existing house presented plenty of problems. The great things about problems is the bit that that comes next… solutions!
Access to the garden
The layout of the bungalow was quite symmetrical, with Nina and Steve’s bedroom at one end, the children’s bedrooms at the other end, and the open plan kitchen and living room in the middle spanning from the front to the back of the house. This meant there was only one rear wall facing the garden and unfortunately all the kitchen units, and the windowless storage room were all placed against it.
Simple solution, right? Demolish the wall!
Architecture’s easy once you get the hang of it
Great solution, plenty of natural light flooding into the house and a really big wide view out to the garden, killed two birds with one stone, however we had the next problem, without all that wall space, where would we put the kitchen?
The Double Galley Kitchen
As well as using this big new opening for bringing in light and gaining views, we also wanted to use the opening to provide access to the garden for Nina and Steve. This meant we couldn’t lay the kitchen out in the same L shape as before. Instead, we decided to rotate the kitchen and create a double galley.
Laying it out this way meant we could make good use of the side walls for kitchen units (more storage) and have a really simple linear layout that would work well for wheelchair access to the garden. By rotating the kitchen, we freed up enough wall space to create two bi-folding doors into the garden.
The 2001 Space Odyssey Bit
We often talk about visually connecting kitchens with the garden but we’ve never actually connected the two physically, because our new kitchen layout had a large island running down the middle and up to the window, we decided to take it one step further and push it out into the garden.
Making the island the main feature we also had to make sure we were working it hard on a practical level and on the theme of killing two birds with one stone we used the island to solve two other problems. Steve loves cooking but standard height worktops are too high for food prep from a wheelchair, so we made the island 72cm high instead of the standard 90cm high.
By setting the worktop at this height meant we could use the other end as the family dining table, with space for all of the family to sit together. We had the whole unit constructed out of steel by a local blacksmith and topped it with a beautiful black leathered granite to contrast beautifully with the lovely yellow vinyl floor tiles.
To maximise views out to the garden we didn’t just glaze the new doors either side of the kitchen island but also placed a window above the worktop to emphasise the look for the island projecting out into the garden.
The black granite also gave the island a ‘the obelisk in the opening scene of 2001 Space Odyssey’ look. If the look takes off, we will think of a catchier name.
Bigger Living Room
Placing the dining table at the end of the kitchen island was great news for the living room as it freed up loads more space for the family sofa, which we re-orientated to face a new semi=bespoke media unit.
To make sure the living area tied in well with the look of the new kitchen, we used units from the same kitchen supplier and re-purposed them to create the tv unit. TV units are lower than your standard kitchen units, so we turned them on their side to achieve the right dimensions. The new cupboards around the television were a great opportunity to provide more storage, to store the paraphernalia that was previously piled up on the dining table.
It was amazing to see Nina, Steve, Oscar and Lexi’s reaction to their new home. What a transformation! It was great to see Nina and Steve able to easily get out into the garden and entertain all of their friends and family. They couldn’t believe the difference.
This was such a rewarding project to be a part of and so satisfying to know that the design and layout changes really made a difference. Nina and Steve will now be able to spend time with the children in the garden, Steve will be able to re-ignite his passion for cooking and the whole family will be able to enjoy eating his creations together for the first time.
We wish the Parry’s many years of happiness and hope that Nina and Steve manage to eventually get the children off their new trampoline.
On another note, Steve, who is a former builder himself, was very happy with the level of finish by the team as well, phew.
Design Tips for your home
- Trendy Vinyl Floors Vinyl floor companies are cottoning on to the trends for patterned tiles and very cleverly re-creating the patterns in vinyl. The advantages of this is they can be cheaper to buy the concrete tiles, and simpler and cheaper to install and easier for maintenance. We used this tile from Alta Flooring for the kitchen https://www.atrafloor.com/floors/starburst/
- Save space with L-Shaped sofas – Sofa’s are a classic space problem in living rooms. Particularly in the UK because, on average, we have the smallest living rooms in Europe. So why do we always order sofas that are too big! Carefully measure your space when ordering a new one and think about the best shape for the space you have. In this case a corner sofa worked perfectly and we used one from Swoon. https://www.swooneditions.com/
- Bespoke Kitchens for less – At Bradley Van Der Straeten we love working with standard kitchen carcasses but working with them creatively. The kitchen for this project was supplied by Better Kitchens. https://www.betterkitchens.co.uk/
- A tip that will cost you nothing: Make more kitchen space by moving your washing machine away from your kitchen. We have given this tip before on Love Your Home and Garden and employed the same trick here. To maximise space for the kitchen we re-located the washing machine to a new cupboard in the hallway.
- Bi-folds don’t have to be full width – Catering for two wheelchair users, we had to think carefully about the door mechanisms we used for providing access to the garden. Through our research we found that two-leaf bi-fold doors where really easy to operate from a seated position and worked brilliantly either side of the kitchen peninsula. The doors were provided by Marlin Windows (
Check out our company website www.b-vds.co.uk for examples of other homes we have transformed.